About the Trail
The Ridgeway National Trail a walking route in a surprisingly remote part of southern central England. It travels in a northeasterly direction for 87 miles (139 Km) from its start in the World Heritage Site of Avebury. As Britain’s oldest road The Ridgeway still follows the same route over the high ground used since prehistoric times by travellers, herdsmen and soldiers.
West of the River Thames, The Ridgeway is a broad track passing through the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and is often quite a distance from villages or towns. Here you’ll experience wide, open views of rolling chalk downland and find many archaeological monuments close to the Trail including Stone Age long barrows, Bronze Age round barrows, Iron Age forts and the figures of white horses cut into the chalk. East of the Thames, The Ridgeway travels through the more-wooded and intimate hills and valleys of the Chilterns AONB where, as well as further archaeological treasures, there are several nature reserves rich in the wildlife found in chalk grassland habitats. In the Chilterns, The Ridgeway goes close to or through several villages and small towns where refreshments and other facilities are easily available.
Exploring the Trail
The Ridgeway can be enjoyed all year round, but spring through to autumn (March to November) probably provides the best views, the most wildlife and better surface conditions underfoot. Early May is the best time to enjoy the bluebells that carpet many of the Chiltern woodlands, one of the treats for visitors to The Ridgeway.
The National Trail is very well way-marked so following the route is easy. But it is always a good idea to take a guidebook or map.
What is special about the Trail?
For, at least 5,000 years and maybe many more, people, including drovers, traders and invaders, have walked or ridden The Ridgeway. As part of a prehistoric track, once stretching about 250 miles (400 Km) from the Dorset coast to the Wash on the Norfolk coast, it provided a route over the high ground for travellers which was less wooded and drier than routes through the springline villages below.
The Ridgeway passes through two distinctive landscapes; the open downland of the west within the North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the more gentle and wooded countryside of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the east.
Getting to The Ridgeway is easy as this part of England is well served by motorways, railways and bus routes. London’s airports are within easy reach. Bristol Airport is the nearest airport to the western end of the Trail.
The Ridgeway is by and large easily reached with a number of main rail stations near to the Trail. This is particularly true of the eastern side with stations like Goring & Streatley, Princes Risborough, Wendover and Tring near the finish. For the western end of The Ridgeway, Swindon is easily reached from London and from there you can take the bus to Avebury, near to the start of the Trail.
For detailed rail information please see www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.traveline.info
National Express intercity buses have stops in London, Oxford, Swindon, Bristol and Bath.
There are many local bus services linking the towns and villages along the Trail.
You can find up-to-date information on bus services at www.traveline.info.
The Ridgeway has excellent road links to the M4, M40, M25 and M1 providing easy access to and from London and the national motorway network.
This National Trail passes through the very best landscapes – places you may want to explore for several days at a time. From cosy country inns to characterful cottages, we’ve got your accommodation near The Ridgeway.